Menu Close

American film studios today collectively generate several hundred films every year, making the United States one of the most prolific producers of films in the world. Most shooting now takes place in California, New York, Louisiana, Georgia and North Carolina.

California was the shooting location for 10 of the top 100 box office performers last year, trailing Canada, the U.K., and Georgia. Canada was by far the top-ranked location with 20 films, including 11 that were shot in British Columbia, noting that Canada pioneered the use of production tax credits during the 1990s. The U.K. and Georgia followed with 15 movies each.

California ramped up its tax credit program in 2015 by expanding its annual allocation of credits from $100 million to $330 million, and establishing a selection system that gave priority to the jobs created by the films. The California tax credit total as high as 25% of production costs – which is still short of the incentives elsewhere. California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation that extended the program for five years into 2025.

Still, California’s yearly allocation for tax credits is dwarfed by the U.K., with $822 million invested in 2017 – the largest film incentive program worldwide. Georgia had $800 million invested last year.

At this point it seems that California has given up trying to stop the exodus of California filmmaking. Instead, a new law simply requires costs of benefits for social systems of film workers who are temporarily working out of state – to shift to California employers.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a bill to ensure film and TV workers operating out of state for their jobs will have full access to the state’s unemployment insurance, disability insurance and paid family leave.

He signed the measure, SB 271, late Thursday and it will become law in January. The legislation is aimed at addressing uncertainties for California-based film and TV production workers who often must travel outside California.

“The bill would provide, for purposes of determining employment of a motion picture production worker when the service is not localized in the state but some of the service is performed in the state, that the worker’s entire service qualifies as employment if their residence is in the state,” the legislation states.

The California International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Council and Entertainment Union Coalition co-sponsored the bill. The council represents over 50,000 members of the entertainment industry, while the coalition has roughly 150,000 members and comprises 17 local unions, including SAG-AFTRA.

“We can now protect thousands of our members and their families who depend upon these benefit programs, often in times of great need and economic stress because they are unexpectedly or suddenly out of work, disabled as a result of an injury or illness, or are responsible for the care of family members,” the groups said.

The flip side of this new law is that New York, Louisiana, Georgia and North Carolina will keep the film production revenue, and be protected from the costs of social benefits for workers temporarily earning a good living in their states.